The MaxiAids Amplified is our pick for the best phone for the elderly, which has big buttons for you to dial, has picture slots for the family members and many other important features.
Our step-up pick is the Vtech SN6147 and it can be expanded for up to 12 devices simultaneously. It is both corded and cordless in its design and functionality.
The budget pick is the Slim Line Corded and it has a super bright ring light so that your elderly will be easily alert on when one is calling, and is great for those with hearing problems.
A Little Background
Phones for the elderly are different from regular phones. This is because these devices can be quite large in terms of display and buttons. Most of them are unlike your regular communication devices because they have special features for disabled people and those with minimal eyesight, hearing and mobility. They are uniquely designed by companies for use by seniors and for home care services.
The large numbers can make calling a breeze for those with poor eyesight. Most elderly people past their 50s can have trouble when it comes down to looking at text and figures. This is why the numbers on a communication device should be big enough for them to read, even with their glasses on. Some emergency situations where they don't have their glasses may also require these big texts for handiness.
The large buttons can help with weak fingers that cannot easily press hard and small buttons. As you get older, things like joint pains and osteoarthritis can kick in. This is why the buttons on the communication device should be large enough and soft enough for them to press, especially for those with arthritic hands. This allows them to make calls easier. Better yet, if your elderly does prefer touch screen, you should get them that.
Some phones can also incorporate picture buttons for speed dialing a person they instantly know about. These special kinds of communication device can make life easier for the ones you love, so that they don't have to fiddle dialing the numbers all the time, especially in an emergency situation. This is because when humans get older, their memory for text and numbers can decrease, so speed dials with faces are handy.
If your grandma or grandpa lives alone at home, it pays to have an easy access means of communication, especially for emergency purposes. Many elderly folks live alone and if they get heart attack or some sort of emergency situation where they cannot manage themselves alone, who is going to respond to them? Having a reliable and easy to use communication device can help save a life, especially if it is the life of your loved ones.
To communicate well with the elderly even if you are very far away, you have to consider a good communication device. This is so that it will not be hard for you to know the status of your elderly family member, such as your parents or grandparents. In this way, you can keep in touch without being too much of a hassle to your loved ones in terms of dialing the numbers or making the call.
Most communication device that are for seniors are made fo have a volume ringer that has a loud volume. It also has a loudspeaker so that your loved ones do not have to mess with the handset all the time, especially if they have arthritis. It is important for seniors who have hearing impairment or have difficulty in hearing to clearly and completely hear the communication device in action so they can answer it on time.
The device is important to have in most home care services as well as in your grandma or grandpa's home. This communication device can be mounted on the wall or easily placed on any desk. Connecting the device to your line is something that your service provider should do, however, so that it will work properly. Note that depending on your service provider, some units do have batteries on their own but some get supply from your electricity.
Among the things that can make seniors weak to use normal communication devices include the fact that they may be unable to hear properly or see properly without their glasses on. They may also be too slow to walk down the stairs or to the phone during the event of a phone call, and they may also have trouble when it comes down to picking up the handset and remembering the numbers to dial.
Most seniors also don't like touch screen phones because they are constantly looking for old fashioned things. This can be a problem, since most will have arthritic hands that cannot easily fiddle with the communication device buttons. Talk to your elderly about the ease of use of new technology of he or she is still not into the thing. Or, alternatively, you can go for a communication device with buttons that are softer to touch.
How we Picked
In choosing the best phone for the elderly, you should consider the following:
Size of the text: do consider a communication device that has good size of text or numbers, so that the person who will be using it will have a much easier time when it comes down to dialing the number(s) that they want to call. This is because some, who even have glasses, may have difficulty in reading smaller numbers, plus during those emergency times where glasses aren't available.
Durability: you also have to consider a unit that is durable so that it can last for a very long time. The handset and all of the parts should be reliable and the handset should be easy to lift for the senior member.
Speed dialing and picture holder: this is important if your elderly member wants a communication device that has speed dialing capabilities and he or she cannot easily remember the numbers assigned to each button. This is why you should get one that has a picture holder in order to make it easier for the elderly person to remember which one is assigned to which number.
Buttons: the buttons should be sturdy but also soft enough for your elderly folks to press and touch. They should also be big enough so that your senior member will find it easier to dial the number of the person that they want to call without much hassle.
Ease of accessibility: you have to consider a communication device that is easy to access for the elderly person, so that it will not be that hard for that person to access all of the features that can be used for this kind of communication device.
As our top pick, the MaxiAids Amplified has an amplification of up to 20 dB so it is great for the seniors who may have problems when it comes down to hearing things. Its amplified ringer and speakerphone makes calls so much easier for the elderly person. It can be mounted onto your desk or wall and can be very easy to install overall.
It has an extra large keypad so that it will make it much easier for the senior member to dial in the number that he or she wants to call, or use it for speed dialing. The other controls are also very easy to use and it can be great for those with visual or hearing impairments. It has memory buttons that also has picture frames so that your elderly person can make speed dials easily.
Flaws but Not Dealbrakers
While not a deal breaker, the MaxiAids Amplified has picture frames that can be a little bit too small, but that is true for most phones anyway, since there is limited space on most handsets.
The Vtech SN6147 is our step-up pick, which can be used for conferences that can go for up to 4 cordless phones in just one go. The design of this system can allow you for up to 12 devices with just one single phone jack. It is very simple to set up and also has three language prompts for you to choose from. It has a corded and a cordless system that is involved in the whole setup.
You can use it as a full duplex system which is a handset speakerphone. It has an audio assist option and can help the volume be amplified for up to 40 dB for when making calls. The clearer sound is also due to the added frequency and the equalizer that you can use to boost certain call signals. The buttons are also big enough for most seniors to use properly.
The Slim Line Corded is our budget pick, which has a volume range of up to 27.5 dB, which can definitely help with making the calls much easier. Those with hearing impairment can hear the ringing sound much easier because of the feature of this kind of communication device. It also has a ring indicator light that is super bright so that it is great for its accessibility.
The ringing mechanism has a switch from normal to high, so that your elderly can easily make use of it if he or she cannot hear properly. There is also a Braille locator and the keypad also has backlight for ease of access during the night. It has big keys so that it is easy to use for the elderly. The coiled cord runs up to 15 feet in its total length and the unit can be mounted onto your desk or wall.
Best Phones for the Elderly with Big Numbers
The REIZEN Big Button is a great choice for those who want a speaker in their communication device. It has alerts for the incoming calls using the LED flashing mechanism. There can be up to 10 numbers that can be saved in the memory storage so that you can use it for many numbers for loved ones without having to redial them over and over again.
You can also control the volume of the receiver so it is very helpful for the senior members to have better hearing for the phone when it is ringing. The volume control is useful so that it allows you to adjust depending on the hearing capabilities of the person. It has big buttons so you can easily dial the numbers of your choice and the number texts are also clear to see.
Best Phones for the Elderly that is a Mobile Phone
The UNIWA Dual SIM is a mobile phone that can be used for when your senior member of the family wants to have a cellphone. It has 8 speed dial options as well as an SOS button for ease of connection and dialing to 5 emergency numbers. It is a 2G phone that has most of the basic features and it also has others like an FM radio, calendar, calculator, alarm, e-book and loud speakers.
There is also a security flashlight feature in this phone, like most units out there, and it also has big font sizes for your loved ones to easily see what they are typing and pressing. The enhanced volume allows your senior member to easily hear when someone is calling. There is also an easy to use charging handle and it can accept up to 2 SIM cards at a time, as a dual SIM unit for extra convenience.
Best Phones for the Elderly with Closed Caption
If you want a device that gives you closed caption or subtitles for your caller then the Hamilton CapTel is a good choice for you. It lets you see on the screen what the other person on the phone is saying, as well as what you are saying, so that you can easily make up what they are trying to say even over a choppy connection. You can choose between English and Spanish for the closed captions feature.
It can be used by people who have hearing problems, such as those who can’t easily make up words from other people’s voices. It is easy to install and it only requires an internet connection to work. It has easy to use buttons and its captioning service has no charge at all. So if your senior member has problems when it comes down to hearing, then this solution might work for them.
Best Phones for the Elderly with Ring Signaling
The Trimline 27.5dB Amplified has a ring signaling device, which enables you to know that the device is ringing even if you can’t hear it properly due to hearing defects. It is also compatible with hearing aids so it can be used even with those who are currently using hearing aids. The volume can be easily boosted for up to 27.5 dB so that you can hear clearly what’s on the other party.
This communication device can be easily mounted onto the wall without much hassle so you can just pick it up and talk to your loved ones. The keypad is also lighted so that you can be able to see the numbers at night. It also has oversized keys so that it will be easier for you or your loved ones to dial the numbers that they want to dial.
Best Phones for the Elderly with Bluetooth
The YINGTAI T10W is another mobile phone that is for the seniors, which has 3G capabilities and Bluetooth as well. It has a good sized screen of 2.4 inches, with a sub screen display of 1.77 inches. It can be used in low light areas because of the backlit keypad, which can be helpful in the dark. It can also have 2 SIMS at the same time because of its dual SIM functionality.
Like most phones, it also has the basic features of a regular phone, such as FM radio, calculator, flashlight or torch, calendar, alarm clock, videos, music and camera. It has a standby time of 72 to 120 hours and it has a talk time of 3 to 4 hour using its 800 mAh battery. It also has sound key adjustment, power display options and ease of visibility for text messages and the like.
Best Phones for the Elderly with Speakerphone
The ClearSounds CSC600 UltraClear has an amplified speakerphone, so that it can be easily used by those with hearing problems. It has a large LCD screen display for ease of accessibility for the person who will use it. There is also a bed vibrator compatibility and there is also a flashing strobe light so that it will alert the person that there is a call and that the device is ringing already, if they have hearing problems.
It also has a caller ID system that lets you see who is calling. There are a total of 99 slots for caller ID names and there is also up to 12 dB of amplification for the speakerphone. It has a headset jack (2.5 mm) and a 3.5 mm for the jack for audio connections. It has a speed dial feature and a backlit keypad. This communication device has a 1 year warranty.
Best Phones for the Elderly with Picture Holders
The Future-Call Picture Care comes with picture holders, so that you can put the picture of your loved ones to the phone holder so that you can easily identify which to call for speed dial. Each of the buttons have their own picture holders, which makes speed dialing a breeze. You can easily do photocalling with this kind of communication device. It also has an emergency key for dialing 911.
It has LED lights that can easily flash whenever someone is calling and it has up to 10 memory keys for you to assign to, in case of emergency or speed dialing needs. The ringing mechanism can be switched from low to high tones and can also be turned off. There are many buttons and options that you can use for the phone, and it is really customizable as a unit for communication means for your loved ones.
There were others that did not make it to our list because they were too complicated to use for the elderly and did not have enough accessibility options that would render them useful for the seniors.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is speed dialing?
A: Speed dialing is the kind of mechanism that is used by communication devices in which only one number needs to be long pressed so that you can instantly call a number of someone you need. This is crucial for emergencies and can be useful for kids and seniors who may not be able to dial long numbers thoroughly like grown-ups do.
Speed dialing, in some communication devices, can be associated with picture frames of the person associated with the number. This is so that your loved ones can easily remember the person who is assigned to that number and so that they can instantly call them right away without having to fiddle with the numbers more often, and possibly get the combinations wrong.
Q: Which is better: touch screen or button communication devices?
A: Both of these types of communication devices do have differences, such as the following:
Ease of use
The touch screen type is a lot easier to use because you don’t have to press a certain button in order to get the function that you want to have.
Button types are great simply because they have been around for many years, but if the buttons are too hard to press, they can be tough.
Touch screens can be durable because they don’t get to be pressed mechanically all the time, however, when the screen breaks, it can be hard.
Button types are more prone to getting malfunctions because they are mechanical switches, unlike touch screens which care electronic ones.
Touch screen units usually have more accessibility options, such as font size change and the like.
Button type ones are usually the ones with less features with accessibility, but the buttons can be bigger along with the text.
If you have a touch screen communication device then you can also have many additional features, such as internet connection, social media and the like.
Button type communication devices usually only have features that are otherwise not very advanced, such as FM radio, calendar, alarms and other utilities.
It is harder to repair a touch screen communication device because of its cost and the materials used.
It is easy to repair a button type because of its mechanism that can be easily replaced as well.
Q: Why should seniors use speed dial?
A: There are many advantages to using speed dial for the communication devices for the senior, such as the following:
1. It makes it easier to call someone.
2. You don’t have to memorize the numbers.
3. You can use it for emergency situations.
Q: Which features should be available on a communication device if your grandma or grandpa will use it
A: Most seniors will have difficulty in hearing, vision, memory and mobility, and that is why the communication device that they have should have the following features:
Features of the communication device
Hearing aid compatibility
Flashing lights that indicate that someone is calling or ringing
Volume control should be adjustable
Ringing volume should be adjustable
There should be a visual message indicator
Head Communication device compatibility
Large buttons for the dialing pad
Large text for the dialing pad
Large screen with large text
Contrasting colors for ease of reading
Picture holders with speed dial options
Sound alerts for messages
Memory loss problems
Picture holders with speed dial options
Appointment features (mobile communication devices)
Corded, to avoid forgetting to charge
Cordless, so their communication device is portable
Webcams or Skype call, if they can’t get out of their couch or chair
Get a mobile communication device or cell communication device
Get a medical alert system
Q: What is the hearing decibel needed by seniors?
A: The typical scenario is that when we get older, when we reach about 60 years old, we tend to decrease in hearing for up to 1 dB so in around 70 to 80 years old, we can expect about 25 dB of hearing loss or more. This is why most communication devices that are made for seniors are meant to ring for up to 25 dB or more when it comes down to its ringing volume.
Q: What are the problems that the senior face with hearing loss?
A: Hearing loss is a terrible thing to have when you get older, because you will face the following problems head on:
When people get older, it can be harder to hear conversations, making it hard to interact with people.
Depression can form when you don’t get to talk with people very much and you spend your time mostly alone.
It can happen to anyone, but most people with inferiority complex with their hearing can develop anxiety.
Impaired daily activities
People who have hearing loss are bound only to limited tasks and activities, and can’t take certain jobs.
Speech discrimination problems
The problem with hearing loss is that the person cannot easily distinguish speech and certain words, which can be misunderstood.
Unable to enjoy music
People who have hearing loss might be unable to enjoy music thoroughly.
Can’t tell sounds apart
They might not be able to tell apart sounds like rooster crows, bells and the like.
Difficulty in social activities
The problems with hearing loss is that they also get less activities to enjoy with their social life.
Q: Which is better: landline or mobile communication device?
A: Mobile communication devices and landline communication devices are still on a big debate, which less and less people hooking up with landline communication devices because they can be too bothersome in our fast growing and technological world. However, they still do have pros and cons over each other, such as the following:
Mobile communication device
Landline communication device
Ease of accessibility
The mobile communication device is definitely mobile and you can use it whenever and wherever you go, making it easily accessible.
The landline communication device is a kind of item or unit that can be a bit too bulky because it only stays at home, unless you have a cordless type of communication device.
Mobile communication devices have a ton of features, such as video calling, internet, games and many other things that are not present on a regular landline communication device.
The problem with landline communication device is that it is limited to voice only, unless you have ones that are incorporated with tablets for ease of video calling.
Mobile communication devices are mostly on a prepaid basis, so that it will be much cheaper for those who cannot afford a monthly bill all the time. But if you are a person who uses data most of the time then it can still be costly.
Landline communication devices are cheap in the long run, even if you do have to pay monthly, but it also depends on whether you make a long distance call or overseas call with your monthly plan.
Mobile communication devices can lose signal, which is kind of inconvenient when it comes down to emergency situations where you have to make a call to someone.
Landline communication devices are generally better when it comes down to reliability because they don’t run out of signal at all due to the company backing it up.
Q: What are some causes of hearing loss for the senior?
A: The senior can have hearing loss because of the following reasons:
1. People naturally lose hearing as they get older.
2. Ear infections can also result in hearing loss.
3. Earwax buildup can also affect your hearing.
4. Some autoimmune diseases can affect your hearing.
5. People with influenza and herpes may also get hearing problems.
6. Those who smoke often can also have hearing loss.
7. Exposure to noisy environments can affect hearing.
8. Exposure to chemicals may also affect your cells, which can affect ear nerves.
9. Nerve tumors may also play a role in hearing loss.
10. People with dementia can also have hearing problems.
11. Those with cerebrovascular disease can have hearing loss due to blood flow.
12. People with diabetes can also have potential hearing loss.
Q: Which people should I talk to when I have hearing problems?
A: If you have hearing problems then there are three specialists that you can talk to:
These are doctors that are also EENT’s or eye, ear, nose and throat specialists. They are the first people you should talk to so that they can assess what is wrong with your ears.
If your otolaryngologist cannot distinguish what is wrong with your ears, an audiologist might have a better answer. They have great training in hearing loss severity.
Hearing aid specialist
They are the ones you should consult if you want to consider getting a hearing aid after consulting your hearing problems to an otolaryngologist or an audiologist, so that they can find the properly fitting hearing aid for you.
Q: What kinds of devices can help people who have hearing loss?
A: Many people are suffering hearing loss every single day and every year, and it is mostly the senior people, but they can consult different kinds of treatments and devices, such as the following:
1. The use of hearing aids.
2. Implantation of cochlear implants.
3. Practicing lip reading or speech reading.
4. ALD or assistive listening devices using communication devices.
Q: What are the ways to prevent age related hearing loss?
A: While losing hearing when you get older is inevitable, it can be prevented as much as possible with the following:
1. Don’t expose your ears to loud sounds often.
2. Use ear protection when necessary.
3. Diabetic patients should control their blood sugar levels.
Q: What are the signs and symptoms of hearing loss in the senior?
A: The following are the signs and symptoms of hearing loss in most senior:
1. Can’t understand what people are saying
2. Feels like other people are mumbling instead of speaking
3. Background noise hearing problems
4. When you turn on the volume of your TV or anything you watch, others complain
5. You need people to repeat words they are saying
6. If two or more people are talking at the same time, you find it hard to comprehend
7. Telecommunication device conversations can be hard to deal with
Q: What are the different kinds of hearing aids?
A: The different hearing aids that you can consider when it comes down to the senior are the following:
1. ITE – these are also known as the “in the ear” type and are worn in the ear. They can come in three different styles:
This stands for “in the canal” and sits on the outer ear bowl’s lower part. They are ideal for most hearing losses and they can also vary when it comes down to size. They have an easy to access volume wheel and can also be great when it comes down to noisy environments.
The low profile design can fit the ear bowl’s outer part entirely. It has manual controls as well as some directional micro communication devices. The size is very convenient and they are great for those with lack of motion due to arthritis problems.
CIC and IIC
CIC stands for completely in the canal and IIC means that it is invisible in the canal. They are great for those with mild to moderate conditions and are the best for those with less problems in mobility. They are typically smaller so they may be hard to control.
2. BTE – these are also known as “behind the ear” types and they are worn at the back of your ears. They can be used by people who want a more flashier design. They come in the following types:
These ones have a tip and a slim tube in their design. They are also open fitting in terms of their looks and are ideal for those who want a more breathable type of device and are ideal for moderate to high frequency hearing loss.
RIC or RITE
RIC means “receiver in the canal” and RITE means “receiver in the ear”. These types are ideal for those with a preference of having a micro communication device at the back. It can be prone to moisture and wax damage but they are easy to repair.
BTE with earmold
These ones are the fashionable type that can be used for all ages, even children. They can come in various colors, sizes and styles for your needs. They won’t be easily damaged by ear wax or moisture, making them the best when it comes down to hearing aids.
Q: What are the causes of mobility issues for senior?
A: The senior can be more prone to mobility issues, in which the following can be the causes:
a. muscle weakness
c. changes in diet
d. less protein
e. lack of exercise
g. Alzheimer’s and dementia
h. accidents or injuries
Q: What are some misconceptions that are associated or linked with hearing loss?
A: Most people think that hearing loss is something that only the senior experience, but it can be experienced by anyone. Here are some misconceptions with hearing loss:
“Hearing aids can make hearing loss worse.”
If you have no other choice but to use a hearing aid then don’t feel scared about yourself. Instead, accept that you ultimately need it so that you can communicate with other people and worry about the dependence later.
“Hearing loss can make you look uneducated.”
It’s not supposed to be like that, because hearing is one thing but knowledge is another. Just because your conversation partner can’t hear you doesn’t mean he or she lacks knowledge. He or she just don’t understand well due to lack of hearing.
“It is okay to not use hearing aids all the time.”
This is a case to case basis, and some people with dementia and other brain disorders are more prone to mistaking things for other things, causing in loss of communication with other people, which can also lead to trouble.
“A hearing aid can feel bulky.”
Back then, hearing aids were uncomfortable but now, they are less and less likely of a chore to put on and to carry around. Technology is making them much better to wear.
“People will judge me when I wear a hearing aid.”
Just like with wearing glasses, hearing aids are nothing to be ashamed of. It is normal and it happens to people somewhere in their life. Some hearing aids are small and discreet so no one can easily spot them.
“It’s okay to just wear one hearing aid even with two hearing loss in both ears.”
It’s impossible, because there will be noise on the other ear. Don’t compromise on your health and get yourself another hearing aid for the other ear.
“Hearing aids are only best worn when going outside.”
Just like with glasses, hearing aids should be worn all the time so that your brain will get accustomed to it.
“Hearing loss makes people old (and useless).”
While age can contribute with hearing loss, it doesn’t mean that it’s exclusively for old people – some younger people do get hearing loss as well. Remember that classical composer Ludwig Van Beethoven started losing his hearing by his 20’s, and that didn’t stop him from making beautiful music.
Q: How do you prepare a senior member of the family for living alone?
A: There are many things that can happen if an senior is living alone, so you should make sure to check the following for safety reasons:
1. Make sure your senior has access to 911 and other emergency services through an easy access communication device.
2. Make sure they know how to get back to the house if they want to go outside.
3. If they are incapable of going outside then they should be told not to wander off.
4. They should know all of the exits and entrances to their home or building.
5. They should be able to tell if there is a fire hazard or any other danger sign around them.
6. They should know how, when and where to get food and drinks easily.
7. They should have easy access to medicine, especially maintenance and emergency ones.
8. If they are afraid of being alone, they should have someone to take care of them.
Q: What are the advantages of medical alert systems?
A: A medical alert system is more than just a communication device – it is an immediate response system that allows family members and caregivers to easily respond to an senior so that they can give attention as they want to. Here are its benefits:
1. It can be better than just a mobile communication device because it is always available during emergencies.
2. Even seniors who have less risk of falling will fall anytime soon, so having a system is important.
3. Alert systems can also be used for other patients with disability and the like.
4. Some of them can be cheaper than you think, depending on the type of system you need.
Q: What mistakes are people making with regards to hearing loss?
A: Some people are trying to self-medicate themselves with hearing loss, in which they may be doing more wrong than right, such as the following:
1. Using an ear candle – it does not have scientific proof that it can help with hearing loss, and it is a case to case basis when it comes down to wax problems.
2. Worrying about the style of your aid – some hearing aids do have different designs but what you should focus more on is the functionality of the system.
3. Not asking questions – always ask questions to your hearing expert so that you will be able to address all the things that you want to know about your hearing condition.
Q: What common mistakes do people make when it comes down to emergencies?
A: Emergencies are important situations in which you should attend to, and you should consider refraining from the following mistakes:
1. Not calling 911 soon enough – always call 911 or any emergency hotline you have as soon as something bad happens.
2. Not being descriptive – always describe everything that’s in the problem, such as the location, the kind of injury and the like.
3. Not knowing your hospital – not all hospitals specialize in this and that. Consider preparing a list of hospitals before you get an emergency.
Q: What are the most common emergency numbers?
A: Emergency numbers you can call that are typical around the world are: 911, 999, 112 and many others. It can vary depending on where you live.
Wrapping It Up
As a whole, we think that the MaxiAids Amplified is our pick for the best phone for the elderly due to the ease of accessibility because of the big buttons and number text. It also has picture slots for ease of speed dialing for your loved ones.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.